How To Train For Kilimanjaro?
MOUNTAIN TRAINING GUIDE
New to Mountain Climbing?
To conquer one of the most magnificent record-breaking mountains in the world is a dream come true for many adventurers. It is no surprise that more and more people today come to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the iconic snow-capped mountain often deemed “Every man’s Everest.” So if you’re thinking of taking your adventure to greater heights, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to train for your Kilimanjaro adventure:
A LIST OF OUR TRAINING GUIDE TIPS
What are you training for?
Mountaineering is a tough endurance challenge requiring you to train, whatever your current fitness level may be. Although walking 10 kilometers per day may not seem like a great distance, due to the altitude, the pace will be slower than usual and therefore, you will be spending on average between 6-9 hours a day on your feet. Preparation is key and will aid in the enjoyment of the challenge whilst ensuring that your body is up for the rigorousness of the mountain.
What an increased level of fitness will do is ensure that the body’s ability to cope with less oxygen in the air is increased, and this makes both acclimatising and walking itself far less strenuous.
How do you Train?
Training is a very simple concept, it is all about progressively increasing your body’s ability to do just that little bit more. In addition giving it time to adapt, recover, and come back stronger. To train thoroughly for this challenge, you should:
1- Plan Ahead
Training is a very simple concept, it is all about progressively increasing your body’s ability to do just that little bit more. In addition giving it time to adapt, recover, and come back stronger.
2- Stay on your feet
You will need to get used to spending prolonged periods of time on your feet, and this also has the added benefit of toughening up your feet and getting used to your walking boots. With plenty of practice, you’ll be much better prepared to take on the aches and pains of a serious trek.
Physical exercise is important as it improves your cardiovascular system, core strength, and stamina. You should aim to set a routine at least 4 times a week, including aerobic exercise, strength training, and hiking.
FITNESS AND EXERCISE
1- Aerobic Conditioning
Aerobic conditioning is any exercise that increases the heart rate and the body’s use of oxygen. These exercises include running, swimming, cycling, skipping, hiking, and High-intensity interval training (HIIT).
2- Strength Training
Involves the performance of physical exercises which are designed to improve strength and endurance.
- Lifting weights
- Using resistance bands
- Use your body weight for resistance, by doing push-ups, pull-ups,
- Crunches, leg squats, or push-ups against a wall
- Using weight machines at a gym
- Strength training is very useful for the mountain as it prevents injuries by allowing the muscles to better support the joints.
3- Hiking and Long Walks
Our best advice is to start walking and increase the distance and time gradually every day. Going on hikes will help you prepare for the challenges of different stresses and strains that uphill and downhill walking puts on your legs and feet. Look for nature trails and head for the hills and mountains. If you live in a place where it’s hard to find hills, an alternative to this would be to walk on a treadmill on a full incline with some weights to simulate walking on a hill or to find a building and climb the stairs.It is advisable to at least be able to walk for 3 hours without big breaks and to carry a backpack while walking to determine how you walk and the pressure you put on your feet.
Medical Advice – If you have any concerns about embarking on a serious training programme or indeed the actual walk, please consult your GP.
Just as important as physical stamina, is mental stamina and attitude. There always comes a point (most often during summit night) that you will want to quit and just head back down the mountain. Keeping a positive attitude and digging deep to push through is incredibly important and valuable skill.
Training your mental stamina is no easy thing, but there are ways to accomplish it. You essentially need to construct an activity that pushes your body to what it thinks is it’s limit, then you need to push past that to reach your goal. A great way to achieve this is long-distance running such as half marathons and full marathons. A marathon will push you to your limit whilst having an achievable goal in sight – the finish line. If you can do this with a friend or training partner then all the better as you will both push each other to achieve more. Remember, it’s that final push when your head is telling you to stop that will allow you to get into the state of mind required to scale Kilimanjaro.
When buying your boots, please remember to make sure they are well insulated, waterproof, designed boots to cope with mountain conditions and it must have ankle support to avoid sprains.
- Go for one or two sizes of boots bigger than your regular size as you will need space for your toes to extend as you will be wearing thick layers of socks.
- We recommend going for medium-weight boots so that you are more comfortable while walking and don’t get tired.
Always wear socks and if possible the same socks you will be wearing when walking.
- The sole of the boot should have a high rubber content and deep lugs for better traction.
- Mountain boots are very crucial in such a climb. We recommend going to a specialist retailer and getting advice on the right boots for you. Remember that mountain boots are different from your regular hiking shoes therefore leave yourself plenty of time to get used to them before your trip.
DIET & HYDRATION
It is so important to keep eating and drinking to keep energy levels up when hiking. A daily intake of 4-5 liters of water per day is advisable and will make difficult portions of the climb far easier on the body. Energy bars, nuts and especially dates are very efficient in providing the right energy during your hike. Due to the altitude, your appetite might be affected, however, it is very important to consume sufficient quantities of food even if you do not feel particularly hungry as your body will use up a lot of energy and hence you will feel extremely exhausted all the time.
TOP TRAINING TIPS
Here are our top tips to get the most out of your training:
- Fit exercise into your daily routine – whether it is a case of walking instead of taking the car, or taking the stairs instead of the lift, you will be surprised at how much difference a few little changes can make to your day-to-day well-being and overall fitness.
- Keep hydrated – most people, in general, don’t drink enough water daily which leads to dehydration. On the mountain, it is very crucial that you keep yourself hydrated. Start by increasing your standard intake of water daily, be more conscious about how much water you consume during the day and you can do this by setting a reminder in your phone.
- Don’t panic – if you miss a session then it’s not the end of the world. Don’t push yourself to try and make it up, one session won’t make too much difference in the end. Keep your mind focused on the task at hand and remember your mental determination is just as important as your physical strength. In the week leading up to your challenge, we recommend putting your feet up, eating and drinking lots of water, and getting as much rest and sleep as you can.
- Try your gear beforehand – Make sure you break into your hiking boots before you start your climb to avoid blisters. Also while going on walks take your day pack and hiking sticks to get used to them.
With the right combination of physical fitness and training and mental perseverance you’ll be atop the Roof of Africa in no time!